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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Divrei Torah

Sukkos: It’s All About Trust

Last year on Erev Sukkos I found myself in the kosher supermarket like many others getting their last-minute items for the upcoming Yom Tov. My wife had asked me to purchase toasted pine nuts for a new recipe she was making for Yom Tov. I’m not new to kosher shopping, but I had to admit I didn’t know where to look. Would they

Israel and Sukkot: A Festival of Unity and a Land of Unity

The experience of four minim is one of the most colorful and vivid mitzvah experiences. It combines multiple fruits and branches into one bouquet, marking the successful conclusion of the harvest season. Aiming to achieve hiddur mitzvah (adornment of religious experience), we decorate many mitzvot (such as a sefer Torah). However,

Serving Hashem With Unselfconscious Joy

The Simchat Beit Hashoeva, the most joyous and amazing celebration in the world, took place on Chol Hamoed Sukkot to celebrate the drawing of the water for the water libation. The Gemara says, “One who has not witnessed the celebration of the Simchat Beit Hashoeva has never seen real joy” (Sukkah 51a). One aspect of this joyous

Reassessing Our Values on Sukkot

What if we were told that we only had a few months left to live? What regrets would we have? Would we regret that we did not spend more time in the office? Would we regret that we did not spend enough time watching television? Would we regret that we did not accumulate enough gadgets and possessions along the way? In short, what is

The Way of Sukkot

The following is based on a holiday message from my friend Rabbi Lior Engelman.

Sukkot is a time for recognizing our spiritual giants, and this gets expressed in the ushpizin (“guests”) custom of welcoming a different patriarch into the sukkah on each night of the holiday: Abraham, Isaac,

Celebrating Without Our ‘Things’

A story is told of a great tzaddik and his rebbetzin who possessed almost no material items. They owned only one item of significance: a special pair of tefillin. One year on Sukkot eve, the husband chanced upon a lovely etrog and wanted very much to buy it, but had no money with which to pay for it. Eager to fulfill the upcoming

Yom Kippur and the Faith in Future Collective Teshuva

Yom Kippur inspires reflections about personal repentance as well as national atonement. We plead for personal deliverance just as we voice our hopes for our ultimate return to Yerushalayim and the restoration of a Yom Kippur experience centered in the mikdash. Our solemn day of prayer concludes with these dreams being bellowed:

Smile, It’s Rosh Hashanah

We all want to eventually get into Heaven. We spend much time studying Torah and doing mitzvot so as to pave the way to Gan Eden. Yet, what is it that is most valued and appreciated in guaranteeing our admission there? You might smile when you read the answer.

The Gemara in Taanit (22a) recounts

Rosh Hashanah in Israel

The universal nature of Rosh Hashanah isn’t limited to a particular nation and certainly not to a particular location. All human beings are judged and, more broadly, the entire universe is recreated—just as it was thousands of years ago at the point of “initial” creation. In addition to “reviving” creation, the Day of

The Goal of Rosh Hashanah

When discussing Rosh Hashanah with my high school students a number of years ago, one of my students said that Rosh Hashanah is similar to a movie she recently saw.

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” begins with Jim and Cindy Green being informed by doctors that after trying everything, they

Eight Days of Teshuva?

Question: How is it that we call the first 10 days of Tishrei the “Ten Days of Teshuva”?

On Rosh Hashanah, the first two days of Tishrei, no Selichot are recited during the davening. We do not say Al Cheit either. We do not ask Hashem for forgiveness. We do not mention

Nitzavim/Rosh Hashanah: United We Stand

Last month, a dream came true. Thanks to the help of some dear relatives, my son and I were able to go to Eretz Yisrael for a whole week before my son’s bar mitzvah. We went to learn in the Mir Yeshiva and Ponevezh. We davened at the Kotel. We met with Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Povarsky, Rabbi Binyamin Finkel and many great